How To Avoid Uber's Surge Pricing This Halloween

The scariest part of Halloween? Waking up on November 1 to find you have a huge Uber charge after you made the drunken mistake of hopping in a car when surge pricing was in effect. Well, not this year. Researchers have found an easy way to avoid an insanely high Uber bill: Just wait it out.

"We see that around 40% of surges only last five minutes, while about 70% of surges last 10 minutes or less," Christo Wilson, PhD, a professor at Northeastern University, explained to USA Today Network in an email about his team's findings.

According to the new study from Dr. Wilson and fellow researchers Le Chen, PhD, and Alan Mislove, PhD, Uber's price surge also happens in certain areas of the city, so sometimes all you need to do is walk a few blocks to avoid the higher charges. (Which might be easier said than done if you're wearing a particularly elaborate costume.)

How did the researchers come to this conclusion? Uber has been notoriously secretive about the algorithm it uses to determine the pricing structure. Drs. Wilson, Chen, and Mislove used what they call "algorithmic auditing" to figure out that surge pricing resets every few minutes and varies from zone to zone.

Below, check out a map — created by the team at Northeastern — of the different zones in Manhattan. If you're in the Times Square area, it's not too hard to get yourself out of a surge zone. But any of you hanging out on the Upper West Side may not be so lucky.
Courtesy of Northeastern University.
The real lesson in all of this? If you're debating whether to stay for just one more drink, check to see if surge pricing is in effect. If it is, consider it the perfect excuse to enjoy another round.

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